Senate committee holds hearing about Conti St. incident - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Senate committee holds hearing about Conti St. incident

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New Orleans, La. - Video of a February incident involving undercover state troopers, a single NOPD officer and two high school students on Conti Street sparked public outrage, internal investigations and now a hearing before members of Senate Judiciary Committee B.

"We want them to realize that when something like this happens, we take it very seriously and there will be a public discussion in regards to incidents like this," says Senator J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans).

The young men, 17 and 18 years old, maintain they were doing nothing wrong when plain clothes law enforcement took them down.  State Police have said their troopers suspected the two were juveniles and were attempting to check their ID's.  The troopers say they identified themselves as State Police, but claim one of the teens tried to flee.

"Look, I saw the tape and I have four kids of my own. When you look at the tape, there's no audio. You can't tell what was being said one way or the other, so I think the most important thing from that standpoint is, let's find out what happened," says Col. Mike Edmonson of the State Police.

Edmonson could not discuss particulars of the case but says he opened an internal investigation within 24 hours of the incident.

Some observers of the video allege racial profiling; Edmondson denies that.

"I can assure you, in my 33 years as a state trooper and my five years as superintendent, I don't tolerate that. I don't condone it. We have training for those things and it's important that when you deal with someone, you deal with them as a person. It's not about the color of their skin," says Edmonson.

"It is extremely saddening and devastating to know that my son and other African Americans in New Orleans have to have the same fear of the police in 2013 as they did in 1913," says Hazel Newman.

The mother of 17-year-old Sidney Newman spoke before the committee and expressed her disappointment with the troopers actions.

"I look at this video and I see brutal force being used against these young men with no reason at all by those who have sworn by oath to protect them," says Newman.

Colonel Edmonson says he wants to rely on facts and he expects the internal investigation to be complete within 60 days.  He also pointed out that none of the State Troopers involved in this incident have ever had complaints against them.

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